Why I Abandoned Christianity

[June 25: Edited to correct various typos, grammar, and factual errors.]

Many men reach a moment of truth within life. For some, that moment related to “hitting bottom,” that sequence of events that leads one’s life trajectory to find it’s minima following an inflection into a negative trajectory. For others, the moment of truth involves a leap of faith: some critical impasse among life choices that can only be overcome by addressing a deep failure to adequately comprehend reality with a reliance upon luck or presumed divine intervention. Still others obtain some insight into the mysteries of life due to some grand stress, overcoming an obstacle of theretofore insurmountable difficulty, and finding untapped internal capability. Still others receive some calling, often purportedly divinely communicated, which thereafter directs than man’s actions toward undeniable goals. I have none of these, although one particular incident sticks in my mind as enlightening.

While driving home from A-kon sometime during the last decade, a wheel broke from a dirt race track alongside Interstate 30 outside Texarkana and struck the car in which I was driving. Before that, I think it passed through a livestock trailer. The wheel struck the right front post of the sedan I was driving, crushing that portion of the car and shattering the front passenger window and right half of the windshield. Had I been a split-second further ahead or farther behind, the wheel would have missed the cab post and killed me. Had I been more than a second farther ahead or further behind, the wheel would have missed me entirely.

There’s certainly more narrative to the anecdote, but what seems interesting in hindsight is my reaction to the event. You see, the next day I was scheduled to confirm my membership with the Episcopal church. Before you draw any conclusions, I’ll reveal that I did confirm my membership the following year, so this is not some road to Damascus moment. What that event did for me – and several other less noteworthy events have provided since – is force me to pause and consider the brevity and precarious fragility of my life, and re-evaluate the importance of several social statements I have made with my actions and associations.

That said, I’d like to explain to you why I abandoned Christianity so that you may hopefully comprehend why, for the most part, I perceive most men who purport Christianity to be vulgar animals, and why I see most atheists similarly. The essence of Christianity, in my evaluation, is the abandonment of moral responsibility for personal vice upon the person of a divine savior. For this service, that savior demands personal enslavement to that deity, except…

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “[Papa!]” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

In other words, as a Christian, your divine brother, Jesus your savior, by mediation of the Spiritus Sancti, absorbs your debt into his payment of all the debts incurred by mankind for criminality before deity, including debts not yet incurred, and in so doing, establishes your status as adopted sons of the deity which is his father and into the family of the godhead.

So, tell me, do you believe that? And if you find yourself fully and unequivocally believing, how do you continue to call “brother” men you know do not believe according to the actions they execute?

My fall from grace was, and remains, twofold. First, I realized that I could no longer continue to associate with men whose commitment to a savior from damnation was so fickle that every conceivable sin was contemplated alongside and with equal value any course plainly and conspicuously directed by divine biblical instruction, with the preponderance of decisions favoring animal pleasure when not decided upon personal profit.

Second, I realized that my purported relationship with deity was premised upon my unsubstantiated claim upon a spiritual component to reality for which I had no resort to evidence. When pressed, I could not say, “Jesus stood before me, alive, having been in a tomb, dead, and showed me the holes in his hands and his feet, so I would believe.” I’ve never seen a burning bush unconsumed by flames, nor any other rules-of-reality-defying proof of a reality-controlling-and-altering deity. For this reason, I cannot relate to others events I have not myself witnessed for which I must rely upon the word of others as purported witnesses.

When these two conundrums intersect, the apparent faithlessness of Christians and the required reliance upon Christian witnesses to establish foundational assumptions for life(and afterlife-)-directing action, the perfect definition of deceit results.

From this core grows much of my disenchantment with Christianity, though I still mine it for such wisdom as may be found. Even so, when I observe Christianity, I cannot help but see it saddled upon every Christian who claims that faith, and count myself better served by abandoning faith for cynicism – both contemporary and philosophical.

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11 responses to “Why I Abandoned Christianity

  1. I turned away from the church for similar reasons and went into skepticism. But I wasn’t satisfied with that, and continued searching and putting myself in strange places to learn things.

    I did end up finding something very peculiar, and very real, and in a roundabout way it returned me to the church, but in a very unexpected manner.

    So I feel for you, and I think I understand. But I hope you haven’t stopped searching just because you realized that public consumption religion is worthless.

    • I did the New Atheist bit, but A+ crushed that hope, and the locals are progs (search “Reason in the Rock” and you’ll find my photo). I’m mostly done searching – now I’m refining based on what I already know plus pieces I assemble hypertext-style as one bit of philosophy or science or practicum leads to another.

      I worry we’ve forgotten that most Christianity is for vulgar consumption and that much of what passes for philosophy among elites is coarse filtered grain fit only for cattle.

  2. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/04/03) | The Reactivity Place

  3. Well, I take your points against Christianity–most Christians are a poor advertisement for the faith… and always have been. I’m a recent convert to Catholicism. I came over from Anglicanism (in the U.S. the Episcopalians). While I am still disturbed by the high numbers of superficial adherents, and the tolerance for outright heresy from those who claim to be Catholic (that is, no withholding communion, no abjuring them, etc.), I have found many quite sincere and committed Christians within this massive community. Don’t take this as a sales pitch for the R.C.’s. Just don’t confuse the faith with supposed disciples. There are authentic Christians out there… too damn few. My hope is to be one day numbered among them.

    • “My hope is to be one day numbered among them.”

      To be, or not to be- that is the question:
      Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
      Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
      And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-
      No more; and by a sleep to say we end
      The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
      That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
      Devoutly to be wish’d. To die- to sleep.
      To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
      For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
      When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
      Must give us pause. There’s the respect
      That makes calamity of so long life.
      For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
      Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
      The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay,
      The insolence of office, and the spurns
      That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
      When he himself might his quietus make
      With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
      To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death-
      The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
      No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
      And makes us rather bear those ills we have
      Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
      And thus the native hue of resolution
      Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
      And enterprises of great pith and moment
      With this regard their currents turn awry And lose the name of action.- Soft you now!
      The fair Ophelia!- Nymph, in thy orisons
      Be all my sins rememb’red.

      Hamlet. Ha, ha! Are you honest?

      Ophelia. My lord?

      Hamlet. Are you fair?

      Ophelia. What means your lordship?

      Hamlet. That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no
      discourse to your beauty.

      Ophelia. Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

      Hamlet. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform
      honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can
      translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox,
      but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.

      Ophelia. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

      Hamlet. You should not have believ’d me; for virtue cannot so
      inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it
      . I loved you
      not.

      • Well, in quoting at length this passage you’ve challenged me to recollect lectures heard and papers done decades ago as an undergrad. If I take your meaning, you are saying that I cannot inoculate/vaccinate/medicate myself from the effects of my inherent sinfulness/immorality through adherence to a creed that teaches a life of virtue. If that is the case, then I agree. My desire to be an ‘authentic’ Christian lies in the knowledge that I can never be wholly certain of where I stand in regard to the ideal, that is Christ, how great is my actual need of God’s mercy, how tremendous are my deficits that can only be made good by grace – I am working this all out “in fear and trembling”. If I rely upon “the Church” as a human institution, then I most certainly will fail. But if I regard it as a community of strivers after God who have divinely given resources, i.e. the sacraments, scripture, to assist me, then it has some purpose.

      • You studied Shakespeare in college?! I didn’t know anybody did that, still. I did all my ready after graduating engineering school – besides what little I read in high school.

        There is more to Saul of Tarsus’ lecture that is pertinent to these thoughts, as I explained to my daughter on Monday.

        Christianity depends upon the assumption of a spiritual brotherhood with its savior, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the natural son of deity. That savior, interceding with deity, includes men into the family of deity as adopted sons, but that adoption is wholly dependent on the intersession of the natural son of deity. The salvation offered by Christianity is contingent upon the sin offering provided by a blameless savior.

        Shakespeare turns this on its head, and works backwards from the conclusion. That this evades detection among Christians amazes me.

        The analogy is not medical, but agricultural, as are most Gospel parables and similes; one need only consider the bard’s era to comprehend this post-hoc anachronism, though you did manage the major theme. The reference is to grafting, which better correlates with the spiritual contemplation of afterlife of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

        Hamlet’s (Shakespeare’s) warning (preceding his notorious admonition, “Get thee to a nunnery,”) is that beauty, Roissy’s praises notwithstanding, corrupts honesty/virtue. Using the grafting analogy, one cannot attach Virtue to even so praiseworthy a thing as Beauty without thereby corrupting Virtue with the sap of Beauty.

        When coupled with a careful understanding of man’s place in Christian theology, the implication is clear:

        “…the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness.”

        In other words, man can transform (the premise of) deity into a court jester faster than (the premise of) deity may transform man into something godly: apotheosis.

        From this line of thought, one may take comfort in the “promise of the cross” that sin is forgiven for irredeemable creatures for whom no amount of godly infusion is sufficient, or one may choose instead to take Hamlet’s warning to heart: man pursues a religious pattern he cannot weave and instead stitches together dissimilar cloth of both beauty and virtue, debasing both in the final garment.

        … the assertion of Jesus perfect raiment notwithstanding, so says me.

        One more thing, in case you insist upon a Christian life.

        “But if I regard it as a community of strivers after God who have divinely given resources, i.e. the sacraments, scripture, to assist me, then it has some purpose.”

        If you ever perceive your Christian fellowship as anything less than a community of adopted brothers, you will fail to remain Christian. It was upon my conclusion that I had no “brother in Christ” anywhere that my Christianity utterly collapsed. Consider that my warning.

        Also, the sin of Jeroboam is also relevant when advocating the adequacy of “striving” over strict obedience to deity. Old-Testament stuff.

        What remnant of virtue remains is not Christian or I have not met him. I have met some purported Christians who are virtuous for other reasons.

        PS: I’ll soon attend a new-members class at a “mega-church” with my wife to determine the quality of that collection of Christians before providing my unqualified support to her change of church membership. [I support her separation from Episcopalians.] I’ll let you know how that goes.

  4. “If you ever perceive your Christian fellowship as anything less than a community of adopted brothers, you will fail to remain Christian.”

    I’m not sure that I totally agree. The Church contains wheat AND tares, and not all who say “Lord, Lord” will be received. Consider also that Christ says that His mother and brothers are those who do the will of God.

    It might not be necessary to consider everyone who attends services at a church an adopted brother, even if we should still treat them as though they were one.

    • The standard for Christian treatment of men is the parable of the Good Samaritan: who is my neighbor? This is not equivalent to the standard for treatment of brothers, which is outlined many places elsewhere, such as admonitions to settle disputes internally before seeking justice at court. Saul of Tarsus knows this; he is not settled at an inn after deity blinds him, he goes to the home of a Christian brother.

      Neighbor, Christians brothers are not difficult to identify. Guard yourself: I do not always travel the same road.

Don't bother.

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